The ‘Right’ to Maim: Disablement and Inhumanist Biopolitics in Palestine by Jasbir K. Puar

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Maiming thus functions not as an incomplete death, or an accidental assault on life, rather the end goal in the dual production of permanent disability via the infliction of harm and the attrition of the life support systems that might allow populations to heal from this harm. Maiming is required. Not merely a by-product of war, of war’s collateral damage, it is used to achieve the tactical aims of settler colonialism. This functions on two levels: the maiming of humans within a context that is utterly and systematically resource-deprived, an infrastructural field that is unable to transform the cripple into the disabled. This point is crucial, for part of what gels the disabled body that is hailed by rights discourses is the availability of the process of rehabilitation. And second, the maiming of infrastructure in order to stunt or decay the able-bodied into debilitation through the control of calories, water, electricity, health care supplies, and fuel (Seikaly 2012; Weizman 2012). The understanding of maiming as a specific aim of biopolitics puts pressure on the framing of settler colonialism as a project of elimination of the indigenous through either genocide or assimilation. It asks us to re-evaluate the frame of biopolitics in relation to the forms of maiming (and stunting, which I will discuss shortly) that have gone on for centuries in settler colonial occupations. Examining the role of maiming, not only in Palestine (though that is my prime focus here) but also in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United States puts analytic pressure on the assumption that the goal of settler colonialism is necessarily elimination (see Stevenson 2012).

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